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Mahāyāna (theg pa chen po). 'Greater vehicle.' When using the term 'greater and lesser vehicles,' Mahāyāna and Hīnayāna, Mahāyāna includes the tantric vehicles while Hīnayāna is comprised of the teachings for shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.

The connotation of 'greater' or 'lesser' refers to the scope of aspiration, the methods applied and the depth of insight. Central to Mahāyāna practice is the bodhisattva vow to liberate all sentient beings through means and knowledge, compassion and insight into emptiness.

Mahāyāna's two divisions are known as Mind-Only and Middle Way. The sevenfold greatness of Mahayana mentioned in Maitreya's Ornament of the Sutras are explained by Jamgön Kongtrül in his All-Encompassing Knowledge: "The greatness of focus on the immense collection of Mahāyāna teachings, the greatness of the means of accomplishing the welfare of both self and others, the greatness of wisdom that realizes the twofold egolessness, the greatness of diligent endeavor for three incalculable aeons, the greatness of skillful means such as not abandoning samsaric existence and enacting the seven unvirtuous actions of body and speech without disturbing emotions, the greatness of true accomplishment of the ten strengths, the fourfold fearlessness, and the unique qualities of the awakened ones, and the greatness of activity that is spontaneous and unceasing."


Another Western translation of this vehicle is Universal Responsibility Vehicle, this in order to avoid any discrimination. KHS